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Villa waiting on fitness of Watkins for opener

Villa waiting on fitness of Watkins for opener

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Pre Season Friendly - Stoke City v Aston Villa - bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Britain - July 24, 2021 Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins in action with Stoke City's Ben Wilmot Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes

LONDON : Aston Villa could be missing striker Ollie Watkins for their Premier League opener at promoted Watford on Saturday but new signing Emiliano Buendia is fit, manager Dean Smith told a news conference on Friday.

Watkins hurt his knee in a friendly against Salernitana and Smith said it was touch and go whether he would be available.

"We're not too sure about Ollie at the moment, he went off with a knee injury (against Salernitana) which was bone bruising, so if he's pain free today he'll train, if he's not then he won't train and he won't be available.

"So we'll pretty much be guided by Ollie himself."

Buendia, signed from Norwich City for a fee of around 43 million pounds (US$59.37 million), has recovered from a niggle says Smith.

"Emi had a slight injury so we didn't risk him in the game against Salernitana, but he's available, he's trained all week," Smith said.

Playmaker Buendia will be expected to be fill the boots of Jack Grealish who signed for champions Manchester City in a British record deal of 100 million pounds.

Smith says that while it was disappointing to lose club talisman Grealish, the signings of the likes of Buendia, striker Danny Ings and winger Leon Bailey means the squad is actually in better shape than last season.

"That was the important thing for us that we strengthened the squad depth this season," Smith said. "We felt we had an XI who could compete against anybody, including the top teams last season. Now we've got more variation, more adaptability and more depth, and that's really important for us this season.

"Obviously Jack going is a big loss, we wanted to keep him here. But I think we're in a good place, our business has been good, we've raised 100 million pounds for a young lad who came through the academy here at Aston Villa. And we've made him into a British record transfer."

(US$1 = 0.7242 pounds)

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

Source: Reuters

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